TWO cases of another coronavirus strain linked to South Africa have been identified in the UK, health secretary Matt Hancock revealed today (December 23).
Mr Hancock announced Wiltshire would remain in Tier 2, but Swindon will move into Tier 3, as more Covid-19 restrictions will come into force on Boxing Day to help battle the growing number of coronavirus cases.
He made it clear new variants of the virus – one which is known has been spreading more rapidly through the UK, and the new one from South Africa – were leading to many more cases.
It’s feared the South Africa variant is even more transmissable than the new one in the UK.
Up to 90 per cent of cases being recorded in South Africa are thought to be the new type of the virus.
Early signs suggest it is more contagious and more prevalent among young people.
New strain of Covid-19 from South Africa – what Matt Hancock said
He said: “Both are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks.”
He added: “We are incredibly grateful to the South African government for the rigour of their science and the openness and the transparency with which they have rightly acted as we did when we discovered a new variant here.
“This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK.”
South Africa quarantine rules
Mr Hancock stressed both cases and close contacts of the cases have been quarantined.
There are now immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa and the Government is telling those who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Africa in the last fortnight that they must quarantine.
He added: “These measures are temporary while we investigate further this new strain which is shortly to be analysed at Porton Down.”